Articles Tagged with albany estate planning

For most people going through estate planning, the goal is to pass on as many assets and as much wealth as possible. Most people don’t engage in estate planning with the goal of paying the most taxes possible or distributing assets to creditors. In fact, creditors can take a bigger chunk out of your assets than taxes can, so if you want to avoid costly claims during your lifetime and upon death that could significantly impact your estate it is important to take proactive steps to protect your assets from creditors as part of a comprehensive estate planning strategy.

In fact, there are several strategies that could help you save on taxes while keeping your assets secure from creditors, though it is important to make sure that whichever actions you choose comply with the Uniform Voidable Transactions Act that covers the transfer of assets in an attempt to defraud existing creditors. Some options for protecting your assets from creditors that comply with the provisions of this act might include:

Gifting

When people begin the process of estate planning or take time to review their existing estate plan, they have many tax considerations to think about. How they distribute their assets will determine what taxes, if any, will apply to their estate. They may consider creating a trust for their children, they might want to “gift” some of their assets to take advantage of evolving tax law, and/or they may choose to donate some of their assets to charity. If you are considering donating real estate to charity as part of your estate plan, it is important to be aware of the possible tax consequences doing so might have.

Charities vs. Foundations

Both public charities and private foundations can be nonprofit organizations if they have applied for and been granted 501(c)(3) status, which means that contributions to such organizations can qualify for tax deductions. However, when real estate is involved, the tax deduction for a donation can vary depending on what type of organization it is.

When you make the decision to see an experienced estate planning attorney to make a comprehensive estate plan to safeguard your assets and provide for your heirs, it can be a confusing process filled with a lot of legal terminology that might be new for most people. One of the biggest considerations in estate planning, and often one of the most confusing parts of it, is the effect taxes will have on an estate. To help you make the most informed decisions about what route you choose in planning your estate, it is important to have a full understanding of the different types of taxes that may come into play. One of those is known as the generation-skipping transfer tax, and the following information may be helpful in understanding it.

Life Estates

To fully understand the generation-skipping transfer tax, you first need to understand what a life estate is. A life estate is a type of estate in which ownership of real property – basically, a home and the land which accompanies it – is passed to another person and ends upon that person’s death. At that time, it may revert back to the original owner or it could pass along to someone else depending on the conditions you choose to set. In New York, life estates can be an easy way to ensure real property passes smoothly upon death without the need for probate. Life estates are also exempt from the federal estate tax. Usually, creating a life estate is a simple process, as is the transfer of property upon an owner’s death.

Maintaining your Social Security number is something we have all been told to keep close, and to be wary of releasing to companies unless absolutely needed. Your Social Security number are a series of numbers that help identify individuals in the United States as either citizens, permanent residents, or temporary workers, for tax reporting purposes. If closely held, this series of numbers provides an easy way for you to identify yourself for various reasons including obtaining bills,  loans, applying for jobs, and when attempting to contact any government agency.

While the internet has provided us with a vast amount of knowledge, it has also provided hackers with a way of obtaining our personal data once entered into a database, for credit card processing, or many of the other reasons we use personal information. A website is recently under scrutiny when they began selling Social Security Numbers for $250 dollars each. The website guarantees that as long as the seeker of the Social Security Number has the correct name, last known address, and date of birth of the person they are looking for, they will provide the correct Social Security Number.

The way in which Peopleinfofind.com, the website behind this scheme is able to claim what they are doing is legal is by stating they they provide this information in order to help debt collectors or those who have forgotten their Social recover it or locate an individual. However, the Better Business Bureau has caught on and is now investigating their website. While it is legal for employers to verify an employee’s Social Security Number with the Social Security Administration,  attempting to find someone’s Social Security Number through a reverse lookup should be seriously questioned.

Properly planning and structuring of charitable contributions and gifts can be a huge part of the overall estate plan. There are good and bad ways to give. Ensure that your gift is properly funded and distributed per your wishes by planning ahead of time. This planning may include using charitable remainder trusts.

Charitable Remainder Trust Basics

This estate planning tool is often considered a “split interest trust” which allows both the owner and the charity to benefit. Once a charitable remainder trust (CRT) is drafted and assets are transferred into the trust, the owner will begin receiving income for life from the trust. Upon the death of the owner of the CRT, the remaining trust property passes directly to the charity.

Newly married couples are embarking on a whole new life together. This new life comes with a number of changes. It is important to consider your estate planning as you begin your life together. Creating an estate plan that works for both you and your new spouse can ensure that you are on the same page when it comes to medical, financial, and end of life decisions.

Update Accounts and Beneficiaries

Many married couples consolidate their accounts. Checking and savings accounts are usually held jointly. Consider opening a joint bank account or credit cards to make paying for future expenses more convenient. Insurance plans, such as health, car, home, or life insurance often allow for family plans that include coverage for the whole household. Changing over to these plans can almost always provide the same amount of coverage for a better rate.

Planning your estate is an important step in ensuring that you, your loved ones, and your estate will be taken care of in the event of your incapacity or death. A few documents can determine the type of medical attention you receive, who handles your financial matters, and how your estate is distributed after your passing. Choosing a knowledgeable and experienced professional to guide you through the estate planning process can protect your family from trouble in the future.

A Relationship Built on Trust

Choosing a legal professional can be difficult. One of the most important things to consider is trust. Your estate planning attorney should be someone that you are comfortable with. In order to fully plan out your estate, you will be faced with a number of difficult questions and what-if scenarios, such as “who will care for your children” and “do you wish to be kept alive by artificial means”. Hiring an attorney you feel comfortable with who is able to talk through these situations with you can make the process much simpler and less stressful. In many cases, the attorney who drafts your estate planning documents will also be working with your loved ones to ensure that your wishes are carried out after your death. Choosing someone your trust who is aware of your wishes can make this process easier.

More and more Americans are getting married multiple times. As multiple marriages become more common, proper estate planning becomes more important. Tools such as prenuptial agreements can create an additional level of protection for you and your loved ones.

Protecting Family Heirlooms: Dave & Mary

Prenuptial agreements can be especially helpful if you or your spouse have children from prior marriages. Many people who remarry would like all or part of their estate to go to their children. Heirlooms or even family homes are often passed on the children. However, without proper estate planning these wishes could be ignored.

Parents believe that leaving their children the family home is a great boon but experience shows that beneficiaries are not happy with the bequest.

For many people in the United States chances are that their house is their most valuable asset. It makes sense then for most parents to leave their most valuable asset to their children. But this common inheritance is only a blessing for a small few of beneficiaries and a burden on most others.

Not A Quick Sell

It is common knowledge that in order for a New York will to be valid that there must be other people to witness you signing your will as well as putting down their own signatures on your will. Despite this knowledge though improper execution of the will is the most common reason that a will is found to be invalid.

Why Do I Need Witnesses At All?

Witnesses provide an important evidentiary function to the probate process. Witnesses to your signing can provide first-hand accounts of the execution of the will. If a will is ever contested, the witnesses can testify about the procedures that were followed when executing the will, the testamentary capacity of the testator as well as the mental capacity of the testator.

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